Winds Of Change

Photo by Tirza van Dijk

An autumn leaf fell by my side;

It was time for a change.

 

The first leaf that fell

Shook me out of my reverie.

I had been planning for summer.

The wind washed away my plans

As that first leaf fell in the water.

I looked on, unable to move.

 

I watched powerless

As the leaves withered by.

I tried to hold on to summer,

I tried to hold on to blooms.

But the leaves withered away,

And left me in a sea of yellow.

 

Somewhere below the yellow

My plans lay scattered.

How could I have not seen this coming?

How did I miss the change in air?

How did I not see the scurry

Of all those around me?

 

Was I the only one unprepared?

Was I the only one on whom

The autumn crept upon stealthily?

The change paralyzed me for a moment.

A fear settled in my heart;

Maybe winter would come too.

 

But taking a deep breath I vowed

That the first fall of snow

Will not be an abrupt shock.

This time, I shall be awake.

This time, I shall be welcoming.

For plans are meant to change.

 

The first flake of snow

Shall not be my autumn leaf.

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On Vulnerability, Bravery and Failure

Trying out new things; the thought makes my stomach plunge a little every time. You know the feeling; a sudden jab of fear, adrenaline, and a worse version of “butterflies-in-the-stomach”. In general, stepping out of your comfort zone, leaving behind “what you know” invokes similar feelings.

I’m generally very good at identifying “what I know”. While that can be a valuable quality to have in various situations, it is also a liability in personal development; I form unnecessary boundaries and define limits for myself.

This is not my thing: not making an attempt.

I’ll try my best but I’m warning you, I’m not very good at this: being apologetic in advance.

I know what all of these statements mask. A fear of failure. What if I try it and find out I’m not good at it? I won’t even try. What if people see me fail? I’ll claim I knew it in advance. All the while hiding behind a claim of self-knowledge and a show of courage.

I’ve spent a lifetime in a cocoon. I’ve cottoned my surroundings to lessen the impact of any stumbling block.  All my life, I’ve held on to things that I know I’m good at. It has stopped me from giving a chance to things that I could have tried and probably enjoyed. And yet, I know I’m missing something; exhilaration. Devoting your whole and soul to something and simply hope for the best.

The past semester has taught me various things. Getting past the feeling of vulnerability is one of those things. I’ve tried to put myself forward, right into that uncomfortable spot, in small, everyday moments of life, consciously. A prick of fear, many moments of “What was I thinking!” and a final dogged attempt later, I’ve always feel glad of attempting the uncomfortable. And in most cases, it hasn’t been that bad. A lot of my inhibitions have been over-exaggerated and sometimes, downright irrational.

In this past semester, I’ve made myself face small challenges every day. I’ve tested and flexed what I thought my boundaries were. I’ve launched heads-on into things that make me uncomfortable. The results have been satisfying. I’ve found new strengths. I’ve discovered a depth in my capacities that I never knew of.

Unfortunately, I’ve found out that such attempts, while very enlightening, have not changed my basic instinct. Which is to save myself from failing. A few days of comfort, and coming back to facing vulnerability is as difficult as ever. Bravery then, is a product of not one (or a few), but many such attempts.

bravery3.jpg

This is my goal now; to continue to challenge myself every day, to try my hand at something new, to conquer that discomfort felt in the pit of my stomach. My goal is to fail, perhaps in the eyes of the world, so that I do not fail myself.